Sprinter Kelly Chadwick requires a life-saving stem cell transplant after being diagnosed with leukaemia

This time last year Sale Harriers athlete Kelly Chadwick was on the hunt for an English Schools medal but now the sprint talent and her family are searching for a stem cell donor after the 15-year-old was diagnosed with leukaemia in April.

Chadwick, who earlier this year won under-17 60m and 200m titles at the Northern Athletics Indoor Championships, has been told that she will need a life-saving stem cell transplant within the next few months.

Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan says it is searching the worldwide registers for a willing donor whose tissue type matches the young athlete’s but adds that the task is made more difficult due to Chadwick’s mixed-race background.

The charity explained: “Kelly’s mum Jen Johnson is black British while her dad Phil Chadwick is white British, which means Kelly is three times less likely to find a ‘perfect’ match, due to a lack of black and mixed race donors on the register.”

Chadwick would have been targeting this weekend’s English Schools Championships in Gateshead after her junior 100m bronze claimed 12 months ago but as her father Phil told Anthony Nolan, “the focus for now is just to save her life.”

“It was hard to accept that she had cancer because she is so fit,” he told the charity. “She loves to eat healthily, but now they’ve told her she needs to get her weight up so she’s eating McDonalds and KFC, which feels quite ironic.

“She’s also still trying to do whatever exercise she can in between chemotherapy sessions,” he added. “The good news is that we’ve been told that her fitness will make it easier for her to cope with the treatment.”

Anthony Nolan explains that if no match is found on the registers within the next couple of months, one of Chadwick’s parents will be able to donate to her (as father Phil is a 6/10 match and her mother Jen a 5/10 match), but the doctors are holding out hope for a donor who is closer match. The charity says that person is most likely to come from a similar ethnic background as Chadwick.

“Until now, I had no idea about the lack of donors from mixed race backgrounds,” said Phil. “I’d heard there were millions of donors on the worldwide registers so assumed we would be fine, but the pool of potential donors from black, Asian and mixed-race backgrounds is actually very small.

“Kelly’s life is on the line and we just want to do everything we can to encourage young people from these backgrounds to join the Anthony Nolan register.”

You must be between 16 and 30 and in good health to join the Anthony Nolan register and further information and the registration form can be found here.